Matador

Previewed 2 April 1991, Opened 16 April 1991, Closed 27 July 1991 at the Queen's Theatre

The new musical Matador in London starring John Barrowman and Stefanie Powers

From Flamenco to rock'n'roll, set against the tumultuous changes of recent Spanish history, Matador follows the rise of El Nino de la Nada - The Boy From Nowhere.

Domingo Hernandez was born ina poor Andalusian village on the eve of the civil war. Thirty years later, he is to be confirmed as the world's most celebrated matador before Franco in Madrid. Told in flashback before the fight of his life, Matador is a thrilling and uplifting story of success, fame, lost love, lost roots and betrayal.

The cast featured John Barrowman in the title role of 'Domingo Hernandez' and Stefanie Powers as 'Laura Jane Wilding' along with Nicky Henson, Caroline O'Connor, Alexander Hanson and Jackie Dunn. Directed by Elijah Moshinsky with musical staging by Arlene Phillips, flamenco choreography by Rafael Aguilar and designs by William Dudley. Musical with music by Michael Leander, lyrics by Edward Seago and book by Peter Jukes.

"The Boy From Nowhere's rise from a nowhere village in Andalucia is thrillingly staged by Elijah Moshinsky against a succession of William Dudley's spectacular sets... For the first half the story is workmanlike, not too fettered with cliches and Edward Seago's lyrics contain clever half-rhymes. The hero's rise is told from the point of view of the disillusioned Tomas, and then Nicky Henson, Domingo's would-be Svengali, takes over. But what happens after the interval? Stefanie Powers arrives, playing a Hollywood film star power-dressed in heliotrope, and utters fearful banalities aimed at showing our hero that shedding blood is horrible. The drama collapses, and John Barrowman must take on the role of representative of the oppressed. I hesitate to suggest leaving at the interval but the evening will seem better by so doing." The Times

"The storyline - of a fighter's pride and fall - is entirely predictable, and played out in flashback... Though the Spanish Civil War hovers in memories, and Franco himself makes a brief appearance, it is a politically and thematically unsophisticated piece, distinguished by a really rather sophisticated attempt to stylise its subject through an equation of bullfighting with flamenco... The rhythmic intensity and formal elegance of the dance is cleverly gestured at in Elijah Moshinsky's refreshingly people-centred production... Although he looks every inch the part, John Barrowman succumbs to the synthetic song-and-dance texture that emerges from the fragmentation of the scenes and from lyrics which tend to hamstring Leander's score with a banal sentimentality... while Stephanie Powers seems under-employed as the American movie actress." The Financial Times

"The saga of Domingo Hernandez, the Boy From Nowhere - 'El Nino De La Nada' - who travels from poverty and obscurity in Andalusia to become a bullfighting equivalent of Elvis or The Beatles... The role of Laura-Jane Wilding, an American movie star who tries to prise El Nino away from the twin prisons of his fame and his manager, appears to have been hastily nailed on as an appendage for a famous name. Stefanie Powers gamely took the plunge, and she plays it with a straight bat and an orange wig, but it could have been anyone. But look on the sunny side. The bright, loud ensemble scenes are all remarkably successful, particularly an impressionistic montage of Madrid, and the tuneful bar scene which opens the second half... The script overreaches itself towards the end, when it tries to load the hero with extra significance as a cultural icon straining against Franco's throttling yoke in 'a fight for freedom and equality'. John Barrowman, moreover, is too light and malleable a presence... There's still quite a bit to enjoy." The Guardian

The Musical Matador in London at the Queen's Theatre previewed from 2 April 1991, opened on 16 April 1991 and closed on 27 July 1991